June 1, 2021
Vital Prayers
The E.P. Corner
by Aisha Brooks-Johnson, Executive Presbyter
In April of this year, we received news that the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta is included in the third wave of the Vital Congregations Initiative. This is good news as we continue to live into what it means be a presbytery committed to “growing healthy, vital congregations and equipping healthy innovative leaders.” The Vital Congregations Initiative (VCI) is a two-year cohort wherein congregations work together to practice the seven marks of a healthy vital congregation. In May, we had our first VCI introductory gathering with representatives from the presbyteries and congregations who are participating in this third wave.  
 
The one thing that struck me in our introductory session was the invitation to pray. This is a simple request and also a powerful one. Over the past fifteen months, there has been a call for the people of God to return to a deeply saturated prayer life coming out of a global pandemic. It is critical, vital if you will, for each of us to seek God in honesty, humility, and integrity as we seek to be faithful witnesses of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are quick to do, make lists, set an agenda, and schedule the next strategic plan. Even as we plan for this initiative, our first assignment is to ask our presbyteries and potential participating congregations to pray over the coming months.  
 
Here is the request: Pray with us. Pray on a daily basis for our churches and our PGA leaders throughout the greater Atlanta area and around the world. Pray on a weekly basis for houses of worship and for the people who serve in them. Pray without ceasing that we will open our hearts to hear how God wants to shape us and renew us as relevant and engaging disciples in a 21st century world. In our newsletter, you will find a new feature called “The Prayer Box.” It will provide you an opportunity to pray for congregations and new worshiping communities on a weekly basis. We also invite you to add “A Seven-Day Cycle of Prayer” based on the Seven Marks of Vital Congregations to your own prayer list.  
 
Let us pray now and always. Let us trust in the one true God who does above and beyond anything we could ever ask, think, or imagine.  
 
~ ABJ 
 

A SEVEN DAY CYCLE OF PRAYER
(based on the Seven Marks of Vital Congregations) 
 
Living God, we give you thanks and praise for the new things
you are doing among us.  
By the gifts of your Spirit, help us to bear witness to the risen Lord. 
Hear us now, O Lord, as we pray… 
 
 
Sunday – Spirit-Inspired Worship 
  • For the transforming presence of Christ and proclaiming the news of salvation 
Monday – Lifelong Discipleship Formation 
  • For your call to follow the way of Jesus and growing in the image of Christ 
Tuesday – Intentional Incarnational Focus 
  • For the gifts of your Word made flesh and offering your grace to others 
Wednesday – Authentic Evangelism 
  • For the good news of your holy realm and sharing the hope that is within us 
Thursday – Empowered Servant Leadership 
  • For Jesus’ example of humble service and loving and serving one another 
Friday – Caring Relationships 
  • For your great love for all the world and extending your compassion to all 
Saturday – Ecclesial Health 
  • For our common ministry in Jesus’ name and building up the body of Christ 
 
Living God, in the great mystery of faith, receive us each night and revive us each day that we may be dead to sin and alive to you; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
The Prayer Box
Each month we are taking the time to pray for our churches and new worshiping communities throughout the year. Please take a moment each week to lift up the following communities in prayer:

6/6 - Alpharetta and Atlanta Korean
6/13 - Atlanta Taiwanese, Austell, and *4Pointes Church
6/20 - Barnesville and Bethany
6/27 - Buford, Carrollton, and *Atlanta Good Church

*Denotes New Worshiping Communities
stated meeting hightlights
by Donna E. Wells, Stated Clerk
What a gift we have in this Presbytery from the richness of our diversity! Our worship components of the Confession and Pardon were spoken in Taiwanese...we welcomed new pastor Zulema Garcia de Rojas from Venezuela, and our inquirer Jung Hee Kim worships at Korean Community. We heard the voices of the Maori and New Zealand peoples sing the blessing for our offering. What a gift! Much more transpired, and here are the highlights:
  • Co-hosts David Jones from Newnan and Sam Kim from Atlanta Taiwanese and Oikos New Worshiping Community brought greetings to the body
  • We enjoyed musical offerings from El Nazareno and Newnan Churches
  • Our guest preacher, Rev. Dr. Theresa Latini preached a powerful sermon on Mark 10:32-52. “This is a story about faith; the kind of faith that positions us to receive shalom and the reign of God...faith born of deep need.” Hear the entire sermon on the website
  • We celebrated the retirements of Dr. Hyunsung Cho and Rev. David Bowie
  • We heard of the denomination’s work with Ecumenical Relations from Dianna Wright
  • We welcomed 4 new members into the Presbytery: Brigette Kemink, Richard Sommers, Ben Allward-Theimer and Zulema Garcia de Rojas
  • Inquirer Jung Hee Kim became a candidate for Ministry
  • Our offering was to benefit the Presbytery’s Shalom Team to encourage and facilitate the work of Non-Violent Communication and healing
  • We lifted up those elders and ministers who joined the church triumphant in 2020
  • New worshiping community Ormewood Church shared the vision of their ministry and community

The next meeting of Presbytery will be Saturday, August 14 from 9:00 to 11:00. This meeting will be virtual. Our November 9th meeting will be hybrid...location to be announced. Please mark your calendars.

Click here to visit the Stated Meeting Information page.
Book of Common Order Effective Until 2023
by Donna E. Wells, Stated Clerk
We have received confirmation from the Office of the General Assembly that the current Book of Order labeled 2019-2021 will remain in effect until the summer of 2023 due to the fact that no Constitutional Overtures were acted upon at the last General Assembly. No new books will be issued.
SCNC Update and Input
by Keenan Rodgers, Chair of the Stated Clerk Nominating Committee
The work of the Stated Clerk Nominating Committee (SCNC) is underway! The Committee has begun gathering input from key constituencies that, together with other resources, will help shape the final Ministry Information Form (MIF). The SCNC has conducted listening sessions with various groups in our Presbytery. If you would like to offer any input to the SCNC on the nature of the Stated Clerk’s role or the most important skills we need in the person in that role, please contact Keenan Rodgers, SCNC chair, at krodgers@pensions.org.
The Engrafting of Memorial Drive with Eastminster Presbyterian Church
by Alan Mackie, Former Clerk of Session for Memorial Drive Presbyterian
Sunday, May 9th was an historic day in the life of the Presbytery when a representative group from Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church was warmly welcomed across the threshold of Eastminster Presbyterian Church. Despite the precautions of social distancing and masks, this was the smooth culmination of the process of engrafting the membership of Memorial Drive into the life and witness of our friends and neighbors at Eastminster.

For nearly 70 years, Memorial Drive was an active participant in the life of the Presbytery and was often a by-word for invitational welcome and radical hospitality. Indeed, by the early 1970s, as MDPC grew in size, it played a key role in the foundation of Eastminster, with some of its inaugural members moving from Memorial Drive to support the new congregation on the other side of Stone Mountain. In the intervening years, some 47 Eastminster members moved from MDPC, and it is good to know that there remain 21 folks who have roots at Memorial Drive. So, for the 38 members of MDPC who have recently engrafted with Eastminster, Sunday, May 9th was a joyful re-union or homecoming.
There is, of course, sorrow in the closure and dissolution of Memorial Drive. However, there was much joy and hope to be found along the way. The swiftness and warmth with which Eastminster said “yes” to Memorial Drive’s request to engraft, and the generous time and support of Presbytery and the Committee on Ministry to assist the process, is testament to the vitality of the Church that breathes new life into old relationships.

On behalf of the former session and congregation of Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our pastor, Rev. George Tatro, for his covenantal ministry to his congregation and community over the past 10 years. Our thanks are also due to so many others, but I particularly want to note Pastor Caleb Clarke and his session and diaconate who prepared such a warm welcome; to Rev. Joy Fisher and Rev. Chip Blankinship for their ready support and kind understanding; to Kathy McCloud – whose zest for the process encouraged us to get started – and her colleagues from the Committee on Ministry; and to Scott Uthlaut and the Engrafting Committee for ensuring all the details of engrafting process continue to be attended to as we tie up the loose ends.

In closing, please keep the “new” congregation at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in prayer as we settle into new relationships and find a new path together. And, as always, give thanks for God’s hand being clearly at work in the life of our Presbytery.

Alan Mackie
Former Clerk of Session MDPC

Links of Interest:
The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta Commemorates Juneteenth
What is Juneteenth?
(Excerpt from Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture)

On “Freedom’s Eve,” or the eve of January 1, 1863, the first Watch Night services took place. On that night, enslaved and free African Americans gathered in churches and private homes all across the country awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. At the stroke of midnight, prayers were answered as all enslaved people in Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the south reading small copies of the Emancipation Proclamation spreading the news of freedom in Confederate States. Only through the Thirteenth Amendment did emancipation end slavery throughout the United States.

But not everyone in Confederate territory would immediately be free. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be free until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that the more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state, were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as "Juneteenth," by the newly freed people in Texas. The post-emancipation period known as Reconstruction (1865-1877) marked an era of great hope, uncertainty, and struggle for the nation as a whole. Formerly enslaved people immediately sought to reunify families, establish schools, run for political office, push radical legislation and even sue slaveholders for compensation. Given the 200+ years of enslavement, such changes were nothing short of amazing. Not even a generation out of slavery, African Americans were inspired and empowered to transform their lives and their country.

Juneteenth marks our country’s second Independence Day. Although it has long been celebrated in the African American community, this monumental event remains largely unknown to most Americans. In the words of Rev. Dr. Neal Presa, Chairperson of the Presbyterian Foundation Board of Trustees, “Recognition of Juneteenth calls forth our collective wills that we as Christians and as a people can never rest until the fullness of racial equality and racial equity is realized.”

The Council of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta approved the observance of Juneteenth on Monday, June 21, 2021.

The PC(USA) will hold a prayer service on Wednesday, June 16th at 9am. You may view the service on the denomination's Facebook page here.

Related resources
  • For those who wish to study Juneteenth further, you can find resources about Juneteenth from the Presbyterian Historical Society here.
  • Additionally, the PC(USA) Store is offering a new Lenten devotional focused on slavery. Lent of Liberation: Confronting the Legacy of American Slavery by Cheri L. Mills was published in January 2021. You can find it here.
  • Resources on Racial Justice from the Presbyterian Mission Agency can be found here.
Sabbatical Rest
by Lindsay Armstrong, Executive Director, New Church Development, Inc.
By the time you read this, I will be on sabbatical until September 7. I’m grateful to the New Church Development Commission, Inc. (NCDC) for providing this time. Our NCDC Personnel Handbook is modeled after the Presbytery’s Personnel Handbook, so I also thank the Presbytery for modeling this behavior. In over twenty years of ministry, this will be my first sabbatical, and I am delighted.
 
In The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel describes sabbath as important in that it offers us the opportunity to retreat temporarily from our daily work routine, from the world of space consciousness, and to enjoy the manifold gifts of creation. Heschel describes the sabbath as a “palace in time,” whose architecture is built through a combination of intentional abstentions (refraining from work matters, long-distance travel, etc.) and intentional acts of prayer, study, joyous meals, and interaction with loved ones.
 
Most importantly, perhaps, Heschel explains that sabbath not only offers us an opportunity for weekly spiritual communion, but it also has the potential to help shape the way we live the other six days of the week and, in my case, the other nine months of the year.
 
One writer asks, “Will our time with friends and family make us more sensitive to the needs of other human beings? Will our time celebrating the grandeur and beauty of nature make us more sensitive to the needs of the earth? Will we be able to hold in our hearts and minds the realization that God calls to us to serve as co-creators of a just and compassionate world? In brief, can we carry with us something of the Sabbath consciousness through the rest of the week?”
 
My original sabbatical plan included pilgrimage in Peru and taking design thinking classes at Stanford. My second, third, fourth, and fifth revisions of this plan have also been unraveled by the global pandemic. Yet, I am thankful because the pandemic-imposed limitations require that I return to classic sabbath framed by intentional abstentions and intentional acts of local study, prayer, joyous meals, and time with loved ones.
 
I suspect it will be a time of unraveling, where I simply let go rather than hold tight. I pray for a bit of this for each of you this summer, that we may all unravel rather than hold our responsibilities, thoughts, emotions, stresses, schedules, etc. so tightly. May you also find moments to breathe deeply and revel in God being near.
Photo by Joe Ambrogio from Pexels
On a Committee or Partnership? COR Needs Your Picture!
Get on board the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta bus!!

If you are currently serving or have served on one of the Presbytery Committees or Partnership groups send your picture to tullyfletcher@gmail.com today. The Committee on Representation and the Nominating Committee request your photo to show everyone the 
wonderful folks who are a part of what makes PGA go. Our presentation will be at the August Presbytery meeting so don’t wait---send your photo to the Rev. Tully Fletcher today or by June 15!!

Remember---you can always sign up at any time on the Volunteer Information Form here. Presbytery Committees and Partnership groups are listed there as well.

Get on the bus today!
2021 National Black Caucus 46th Biennial Convention
The National Black Presbyterian Caucus Board of Directors are excited to announce that registration is now open for the 2021 Biennial Virtual Convention to be held virtually from Charleston, South Carolina, June 24 –June 26, 2021.

The theme of the 46th Biennial Virtual Convention is “The Black Family, Congregation and Community in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A.: Navigating Identity, Equity and Economics.”

Click here for more information and to register.
Memorial Drive Ministries School Supplies Drive
by David Roth, Executive Director of Memorial Drive Ministries
Dear friends and supporters of MDM,
 
I hope this email finds you well! As many of you may already be aware, this summer MDM is hosting a School Supplies Drive! All collected items will benefit our community of Onsite Partners and those we serve and walk alongside- resettled refugees and other under-served populations in and around the Clarkston area. Rather than requesting items that these students and families are often already able to receive from the county and in their schools, we have identified a specific list of other necessities and helpful items that are often harder to come by that we are asking our friends, supporters, and partner churches to collect and deliver. If you and/or your congregation or group would like to participate please collect the following items (and only these items please!): Glue sticks, Jumbo crayons, Washable markers, Erasers, Printer paper, Hand sanitizer, Notebooks, Pens, & Pencils. I have attached a flyer for the School Supplies Drive with all the pertinent information – please feel free to share this graphic far and wide (on social media and with your church’s communications teams!).
 
The more you can prepackage these items all together, the better. But we will also aim to have volunteers at the drop-off day who can also assist with that as well. The Drop Off day and time will be Saturday, July 17th from 3:30pm – 5:30pm at Memorial Drive Ministries, located at 5140 Memorial Drive Stone Mountain, GA 30083. We truly won’t have capacity to be accepting these donations at other times before or after this specific drop-off window, so thank you for making plans to deliver the items on that date and during that specific time window! To play it safe in terms of COVID pre-cautions, we will again ask that everyone wear masks and watch your distance when delivering the donations.
 
Lastly, for any of you who may have missed it when we first released it, please also find attached MDM’s Annual Report from 2020. It reports on our last year and casts some vision for the future as well. If any of you would like to connect further about anything you see in this report, please let me know and I’ll be happy to follow up with you. As always, thank you for being a people who stand for welcoming refugees and who take concrete action to make our community more hospitable for newcomers who fled war and violence. It makes a difference!

Links:
Congratulations to Catherine Meeks, PhD, and Nibs Stroupe. Their book Passionate for Justice: Ida B. Wells as Prophet for Our Time was listed in the Georgia Center for the Book's list of Books All Georgians and Young Georgians Should Read 2021. Click here to read the announcement.
Congratulations to new worshiping community La Esperanza Presbyterian Church for being awarded a Seed Grant from the Presbyterian Mission Agency. La Esperanza started with a few families from Venezuela. Now people from other countries are joining them for Bible study and worship. The Rev. Zulema Garcia, who recently migrated from Venezuela, shares the challenges of starting a new life in the Atlanta area — and the grief of leaving behind loved ones suffering under deplorable living conditions. Click here to read the article.
Sanctified Art has created a new worship series called I've Been Meaning to Ask. Some of the best conversations start with good questions—questions we’ve been meaning to ask, questions that keep us curious, and questions that lead us deeper into courage and connection. We’ve crafted this worship series around four guiding questions: “I’ve been meaning to ask… Where are you from? . . . Where does it hurt? . . . What do you need? . . . Where do we go from here?” As you can see, these questions aren’t surface level; they invite us to tell our stories, share our pain, care for one another, and dream about a new way forward together. Click here to learn more.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) has released the 8 Habits of Evangelism resource. This resource identifies and explores eight habits of faith, which invite the reader on a journey into the love of God, the lives of our neighbors, and the transformation of creation. As we become more like Christ, we are a people of radical inclusion, generosity, and justice. Through our worship, sacraments, community, prayer, and teaching, lives are being formed and transformed in ways that are the visible and audible signs of the reign of God. The community of faith is designed to be the seen, heard, and experienced as a representation of God’s reign and peace. Click here for more information.
The Presbytery Staff will never email you asking for money or gift cards. If seeking donations, Staff would direct you to the Presbytery website or invite you to mail a check. If you have any suspicion, please reach out to one of us directly before responding! Stay safe in cyberspace!!
Upcoming Events
Click here for CTS's Center for Lifelong Learning courses and events.
Click here for the Calvin Center's programs.
The presbytery advertises employment opportunities within our congregations and partnerships. If you would like to browse opportunities or submit a new opening click here.
The next newsletter will go out July 1. Articles will be accepted through June 21th. The following newsletter will go out August 1. To request space for an article, email your Congregational Consultant or Mark Sauls at msauls@atlpcusa.orgClick here to view submission guidelines.
Top Graphic Attribution:
Tanner, Henry Ossawa, 1859-1937. Nicodemus, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=57924 [retrieved May 30, 2021]. Original source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Henry_Ossawa_Tanner_-_Jesus_and_nicodemus.jpg. Record Number: